A/N:Hello my dear readers! I know you're probably wondering why the heck I'm posting another story when I haven't finished the others? Well, you know that little illness called 'writer's block', that every one of us suffers from now and then? Yes, the damn thing struck me for some time now. So, I've decided to open up my file and extract a story that's almost finished, and post it instead.
With the help of my beautiful Beta-Raven.Borgia- I give you a new story. I know this idea has been written before, but, as always, I hope to twist the plot enough to give you something similar, but new.
Without further ado…On with the story.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. J.K.R. is the wonderful creator of this enchanting world. I'm just playing with her characters…and locations…and spells…Well, you get the picture. :D
Hermione knew she was hyperventilating, but she couldn't help it. The rough, cold surface of the stone floor scratched her feet mercilessly, making her wince when she stepped on a sharp corner of a stone. She paid little mind to any of it however. The corridors were mostly engulfed in darkness, but she didn't mind. Having traveled the same route twice a week for every ten months of the past six years, it was fairly easy to find her way even in the pitch black night.
Even though it was late, Hermione kept an eye out for Filch and his cat. Having already descended five floors without any disturbance, it wouldn't do for the caretaker to find her now and march her straight to McGonagall's office.
Still trying to silence her harsh breathing with a trembling hand, she rounded another corner…and hit a hard, black wall. The beginning of a scream rose in her throat as she started to fall, but the same wall she had hit seemed to have arms, and they quickly shot around her, pulling her back up.
''Care to explain what exactly you are doing prowling about in the dark in the middle of the night, Miss Granger?''
That voice! Hermione nearly laughed in relief, but managed to stop herself just in time. At least the shock had been enough to return her breathing to normal.
''I was actually coming to see you, sir'', she said and despite the dark corridor, she could see the curiosity sparkle in his black eyes and his eyebrow lift towards his hairline.
''And what, pray tell, was so important that you had to come see me at this ungodly hour? Couldn't it wait until morning?''
Hermione shook her head. ''No sir. I couldn't wait, and I can't tell you standing here.'' For the tenth time since she left her dorm, Hermione cursed herself for rushing out without her slippers and cloak. She was freezing.
''Very well'', Snape sighed. ''Come along then.''
Hermione nodded and started following him. Snape, however, stopped only after a few steps and after murmuring a soft Lumos to his wand, looked her up and down. ''How important could this be that you ignored proper clothing? And your wand?''
Hermione gave him an embarrassed smile. ''Life and death important, sir'', she whispered.
''You should have gone to the headmaster then.'' Snape said as he removed his robe and threw it around her shoulders, before efficiently sending a warming charm at her feet.
Hermione shook her head again, ''No sir. And I'll tell you why later.'' He nodded and started walking again, a little faster this time.
As they walked, Hermione focused her attention on the sound of his boots against the stone floor and the scent of herbs emanating from his robe. She could remember the first time she stepped inside his classroom, both familiar and completely foreign scents overwhelming her senses. She loved them all. That was also the day she decided that potions was her favorite class.
The sound of a door clicking open brought her attention back to the present and she quickly followed Snape inside his office. Despite the ugly display of jars full of weird creatures, here too, lingered the same sweet, yet sharp, scent of mixed herbs.
''Have a seat, Miss Granger, and start explaining your presence here. Or Gryffindor will have a serious lack of points come morning.''
Hermione swallowed a few times before lowering her eyes to her twitching hands. This was important to her. But would it be to him as well? Well, the letter had said so…but still. Nodding once to herself, she looked back at him.
Despite the fact that most of the males, if not all of them, at Hogwarts thought he was lacking in both looks and character, there were a few girls that thought of him as a powerful, dark, handsome wizard. She was one of them.
Blinking twice to remove some not-so-appropriate images from her head, Hermione cleared her throat and began speaking, hoping against all odds that he wouldn't kick her out of his office.
''I know it's late, sir, and I apologize for barging in on your free time. But I have a few questions for you.'' Hermione stopped and took a deep breath. ''I know your mother belonged to the House of Prince. I have to ask, are you the only living heir?''
A heavy silence fell upon them for a few moments, and she could see his eyes narrowing in on her face, nostrils flaring almost imperceptibly. ''Why do you need to know? And how did you acquire information concerning my mother?'' His voice was no higher than a dangerous whisper, and she could actually feel the temperature dropping in the room.
''I didn't mean to offend you, sir. I only started researching because of a book Harry found, nothing more. But I can't tell you anything else before you answer my question.'' Hermione could feel her heart beating wildly against her ribcage, but she couldn't stop now. She needed to know.
Snape's eyes were still narrowed, but to her relief, he did answer. ''To my knowledge, yes, I am the last living heir of the Prince line.''
Hermione nodded. ''What exactly do you know about Ordo Draconum?'' At that he visibly froze. Even his breathing had stopped.
''What do You know about it, Miss Granger?'' he asked in a whisper.
Hermione closed her eyes and sighed. ''I didn't have time to research anything. I got a letter from Gringotts tonight. The goblins informed me that I should invoke the vow of the Ordo Draconum and that the last heir of the Prince line will be able to help me with that…Sir, are you alright?'' she asked, concerned with the professor's sudden change in pallor. Snape's eyes had grown impossibly wide, his already pale skin resembling porcelain, and his breathing had quickened considerably.
Looking around, Hermione spotted a stack of hand towels by a small sink in the corner of the room and rushed towards it. She didn't know what exactly she'd said wrong, but Snape's reaction just wasn't right.
Getting one of the small towels wet, she rushed back towards him and pressed it to his forehead. ''I am so sorry sir. Are you alright? Please tell me I didn't do anything wrong. I'm so sorry…'' she was saying these words over and over again as she tried to brush away the sudden tears.
''No!'' Snape suddenly said, turning sharply towards her. Hermione pressed a hand to her mouth and slowly started to move away from him, only now remembering that Snape never let anyone touch him.
''I'm so sorry…'' she sobbed, ''…I shouldn't have…I didn't mean…''
''No, no, no, no…'' Snape said quickly as he stood from his chair and strode towards her. ''There is nothing to apologize for, Princess. Nothing at all. I don't know how much help I will be to you, but you did well to come to me. Please, have a seat.''
Hermione gaped at him. ''Princess?'' she asked in an unnatural high-pitched voice.
Snape nodded. ''I take it the letter didn't explain everything?''
She shook her head as he helped her back to the chair and covered her with his robe again.
''The Ordo Draconum, means 'Order of the Dragon'. It was founded sometime at the beginning of the 15th century, I believe. There aren't many documents written about it. Back then, the wizarding world was ruled by a King and Queen, and the line continued until little before the Dark Lord fell in the first war. King Edward and Queen Constance were murdered, but the Princess was never found. Everyone thought she was dead…Until now'', he said looking at her pointedly. ''The Order of the Dragon was founded for the protection of the Royal family. Count Edgar Prince was the King's personal chancellor when the Order started. After him, according to the laws of inheritance, it was usually the eldest male heir who would take over as chancellor, and the rest of the sons would take their place as soldiers. I do not know who the families that joined the Order were, but if you invoke the vow, they are bound to do your bidding.''
Hermione was silent as she absorbed all the information. Only yesterday, she was the mudblood Granger, the Gryffindor bookworm, Harry Potter's best muggleborn friend, and now she was the wizarding world's lost princess. How utterly ironic.
Taking a deep breath, she locked eyes with Snape. ''The reason I was informed of my…heritage…is because Lord Voldemort is trying to gain access to both the castle and the vaults…And so is Dumbledore.''
''What!'' Snape shouted.
Hermione nodded. ''The goblins have refused him repeatedly, even when he went to them with fake approval papers. He has been trying to gain access to the vaults since the first war.''
''No one has right to those vaults but you'', he snarled, ''I do not know Dumbledore's reasoning, but I know he shouldn't be needing any money, assuming they are meant for the Order of the Phoenix. You have to invoke the vow. The goblins are right.''
Hermione sighed. ''How do I do that?''
''You should have a birthmark.''
''I do.'' she nodded, ''On my neck. Ever since I came to Hogwarts and found the Glamour Charm, I've hidden it.'' she said and pulled her hair away from the left side of her neck.
Hermione honestly expected him to draw his wand and cancel the spell himself. But to her utter shock, he offered the wand to her. Knowing that no witch, or wizard would allow their wands to be handled by other than themselves, she didn't really know what to make of the gesture.
Warmth spread through her body as her fingers closed around the slender wood and she sighed in contentment. It was strange really, this sort of reaction. She had felt the same tingling only once before. The first time she touched her own wand at Olivander's. After silently canceling the charm, revealing her star shaped birthmark, Hermione looked back at Snape. ''Now what?''
''Press the wand to your mark and say 'Ordo Draconum Fidem Juratus Invocatum'.'' he said calmly.
Taking a deep breath, Hermione did just that and felt her skin start to tingle. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, but seeing as the mark was on her neck, it tickled. Opening her eyes to look at Snape again, she gasped in shock when she saw him kneeling before her with his head bowed.
''I am at your service, Princess.''
''No, sir, please. You don't need to do that'', Hermione said quickly and felt her cheeks heating up with a rosy blush.
''You'll find that I do have to do that, Princess. Your word is above both the Dark Lord and Dumbledore now'', Snape said as he stood, but kept his head bowed.
Hermione gasped and felt her eyes fill with tears. She knew he was a spy and had to obey every command given by both Dumbledore and Voldemort, not to mention that the Dark bastard had Snape kissing the hem of his robes once a week or so. So she could only imagine how this felt to him.
''No, sir. I don't want this. I would like your advice, yes, but not this. Never this…And you don't need to call me Princess either.''
Snape nodded. ''If you don't want anyone knowing yet, I agree that your title should remain hidden. But amongst those that are bound to you, that is what you will be called, Princess.''
Hermione sighed in resignation. ''What do I do now? How will I know who is part of the Order?''
''You have to go to Gringotts. When you invoked the vow, the goblins should have a roll of parchment that automatically started to fill with the name of those that have the mark.''
Hermione felt dizzy. ''What mark?''
To answer her question, Snape unbuttoned his shirt and pulled the fabric away for Hermione to see a golden star shaped mark on his collarbone.
She gasped. ''I'm so sorry sir…Did it…hurt?''
''Princess…'' Snape chuckled as he buttoned his shirt again, ''…you have to stop apologizing. No, it did not hurt. It was actually pleasant.''
Hermione sighed in relief. ''I should go back to bed. I hope it isn't too much to ask, but would you be willing to come with me to Gringotts tomorrow?''
''Of course I will. I don't think you understand, Princess, but as of now you will go nowhere alone. There are many out there that would hurt you. You'll see that you are unable to hide your mark now, so everyone will know who you are, if they know about the Royal family and the Order. As for you going back to Gryffindor Tower, I wouldn't recommend it. Not until we know that someone up there is part of the Order and able to protect you if need be.''
''But…but…where am I going to sleep?'' Hermione sputtered.
''If you'll follow me…'' Snape bowed as he gestured towards a door that she hadn't noticed until then.
Certain that it was the door that separated his work space from his private quarters, Hermione's cheeks started to burn. ''Um…sir…are you sure? I can cast some protective wards around my bed…''
''Princess…you do not have to worry about anything. The vow I swore as a child binds me to protect you. You won't have to fear that any harm will come to you from me.'' Snape said stiffly.
Hermione frowned. ''That's not what I meant, sir. I trust you. But won't you have problems with Dumbledore? That man seems to be omniscient, not missing even the smallest mouse moving about the castle.''
She arched an eyebrow as Snape visibly relaxed, and she wondered whether she had only imagined the corners of his lips twitching. ''No, Princess. Dumbledore is unable to monitor either my chambers, nor my office.''
Still red in the face, Hermione nodded and stepped through the door, followed closely by the potions master.
What Hermione presumed to be the sitting room, was quite cozy. Where she had expected to see only Slytherin colors, there were deep blues, dark browns, black and very little forest green. The fire was cracking merrily in the large fireplace and the flames cast a warm glow over the walls…Walls that were covered by shelf upon shelf heaving with books.
She heard Snape chuckle at her delighted gasp, and quickly looked away. ''Sorry…''
''I was once like that. Still am actually. I wouldn't suggest touching anything without asking first though. Some of the books have dangerous spells placed on them.''
''Of course.'' Hermione nodded and followed him towards what she supposed was the bedroom.
And so it was. A large king sized four poster bed was placed close to the wall across from the door, covered in silk maroon sheets, a nightstand on each side, an armoire in one corner of the room, and a chest of drawers in the other.
''I know it's not much, Princess, but I hope it will do for tonight?''
Hermione wanted to laugh. Was the man serious? 'Not much'? ''It's more than enough, sir. Thank you.''
Snape nodded. ''I'll leave you to it then. Good night Princess.'' he said, bowed his head as he brought his right fist to his left shoulder as a gesture of reverence and servitude. He then turned to leave, closing the door softly behind him.
Hermione just stood there for a few moments, frozen, as the fact that she was standing in Severus Snape's bedchamber sunk in. And not only that. All that she had learnt from the moment she opened the letter began to finally settle in her mind.
She was a princess. The princess of all witches and wizards. Of the wizarding world. What the hell was she supposed to do now? She was only seventeen, for Merlin's sake, and the goblins made it clear that they were informing her now only because Dumbledore and Voldemort were pushing harder than ever to get to the vaults.
Ever since entering Hogwarts, she'd tried to fit in, studied everything that she could, read every law, and learned every spell…only to find out that she had been part of this world all along…
That also meant that the Grangers weren't her real parents. Why hadn't they told her anything? Maybe if she knew that she wasn't a muggleborn, she wouldn't have had such a hard time with all the insults.
Sighing, Hermione peeled off Snape's robe and climbed into bed. It felt divine.
Snape was another enigma altogether. The man she'd known for the past six years as a teacher, was totally absent tonight. Well, at least after she told him about the letter, he disappeared. But she didn't want him to bow in front of her, or refer to her so formally.
Hermione had trusted him as a professor until forth year. After that, after seeing him show Fudge his Dark Mark, she'd trusted him as an ally. And no matter what Harry and Ron thought, she was sure that Snape was the one that alerted the Order and Dumbledore in fifth year.
Oh Merlin! Harry and Ron. What were they going to think about this? It would be useful to Harry, and maybe the Weasleys were part of the Order…
Sighing yet again, Hermione let her eyelids close. It was quite late and the next day would be quite busy…
Severus Snape sighed as he sat down on his couch.
He could vividly remember his mother telling him about the Royal family and extracting the vow from him on his eleventh birthday. She would always tell him stories about the King and Queen and how the Prince family had been serving them for hundreds of years, and how some day it would be his turn to do so.
At first he'd thought that following orders, whomever they came from, wasn't right. Especially when he saw his father order his mother around all the time. Growing up, he had accepted the situation, seeing that they were royalty. After that, his servitude and his very soul was claimed not by one, but two masters. First Voldemort, who promised him power, then Dumbledore who offered a chance at redemption. Yet no matter how one looked at it, he was still only a servant. It was hardly a wonder that carrying out orders had become second nature to him.
Severus wanted out, of course, as any sane man would. And he secretly wondered what the Princess would think if he told her how he was treated.
Would she even care? He had had to treat her like she was the lowest of the low for six years. He had insulted her friends at every turn, taunted and undermined her bright mind where it should have been encouraged. Would she understand the length he had to go to for that particular persona? That mask? Would she understand that he, in truth, wanted only to serve her and no one else?
Would he dare, some day, to tell her that he had fallen in love with her?
That day would never come, of course. She was young…too young…and when everyone found out that she was the princess, she would have her pick at any man.
No matter. At least he would be close to her, intent and willing to offer her whatever she needed of him. He would be loyal to her only and both Dumbledore and Voldemort could go hang themselves for all he cared.
He would spy for her and only tell Dumbledore what she wanted him to know. He would help her with everything she needed. Be anything and anyone she wanted him to be.
Oh, how he wanted to laugh at the irony of it all.
First, he fell in love with the girl that reminded him so much of himself and his mother…still underage…Then he not only accepted, but was willing to take orders from her no matter what. A thing that, as a small child, he thought to be degrading and a sign of weakness.
Severus sighed and stretched out on the couch. A few hours of sleep would help clear his head. Not only that, but the Princess needed his advices. And he could only do that with a crystal clear mind.
A/N2: Please keep in mind that neither I, nor my Beta are natives, so if any mistake lingers amongst the lines, we would appreciate you pointing it out, and forgive us for overlooking it.
Your reviews are welcome. Be it good, or bad criticism, we appreciate you taking the time to read and leave us your thoughts.